Building an audiovisual market in Cameroon
Boosting access to regional audiovisual material, the Cameroonian Association to Promote Audiovisual and Live Performance (APPAS) has created the first database of central African cinematographic and audiovisual productions. The initiative offers an innovative channel for producers and broadcasters to distribute or access quality audiovisual works. The non-governmental organization’s initiative was funded by UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Cameroon’s audiovisual industry was a rising star in Africa with homegrown talent and cinematographic productions. But, new technologies permitting home viewing of films, piracy, and obsolete structures saw the demise of audiovisual and cinemato¬graphic distribution companies and the closure of many cinemas. Nowadays, films reach their main market thanks to festivals and television.
Through the project, APPAS has collected and digitalized hundreds of hours of film and audiovisual productions to create a regional audiovisual landscape. The Image Database of Central Africa, known as BIMAC, contains 400 works of all categories and represents 350 viewing hours. A repository of past, present, and future productions, BIMAC functions like a community film library on a commercial scale.
BIMAC head, Rémi Atangana Abega, who is himself a film producer and director, explains. “Since the launch, BIMAC has been collecting films and audiovisual productions. It ensures their calibration, cataloguing, storage and conservation.”
“We have published the first catalogue of films and audiovisual works available in our repository, and it is being distributed to local and international television stations for sale.” He said: “With each additional audiovisual work, BIMAC prepares promotional material and negotiations with broadcasters, to generate interest and the sale of broadcasting rights to the station. BIMAC also pays producers, whose films were sold, their part of the purchasing price.”
In addition to collecting, archiving, promoting and distributing central African audiovisual works, the initiative also gathers information on filmmakers, producers, distributors and other relevant professionals, and actively promotes the project through professional networks and associations.
Project Administrative Manager, Paule Barbara Nga said: “BIMAC has brought a wave of hope for the distribution of audiovisual works and cinematography in Cameroon … The database works as an interface, a sort of relay between the production world and that of broadcasting.”
The collection is aimed at African and international television stations, public and private organizations and administrations, universities, youth clubs and various professional and cultural associations. It is accessible directly through BIMAC’s sales and distribution structure and online.
The centralized database encourages producers to distribute new audiovisual creations through it. In recent years, the domain has been inundated by poor quality works, whereas now BIMAC ensures access to quality productions, past and present. Managing Director, Patrique Minfoumou said: “We think the database can be put to good use and encourage quality productions that could revalorize the audiovisual landscape and cinematography in Cameroon and Africa.”
“BIMAC could encourage the creation of films and especially quality films in Cameroon and Africa in general, our goal is to cultivate a climate of confidence,” she said.